Professor Ann Hodges has been honored as a 2014 recipient of the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award. The Beckman Award is presented every year to ten professors from across the country who inspire their former students to achieve greatness.

Professor Hodges was nominated by Victor Narro (L ’91), who is now one of the preeminent immigrants’ rights and labor legal advocates in the country. Narro found his passion in Professor Hodges’ labor law class. “Ann always emphasized the victims of labor cases,” Narro explained. “She reminded us that there are real people behind them.” Narro was inspired to begin using the law to help others and, with Professor Hodges’ guidance, he began working with people in need. “He was always interested in and active in service of various sorts,” Professor Hodges said. “In law school, he was always doing something for other people.” Narro credits Professor Hodges for leading him to a narrow area of law that he works in to this day. “As a foreign-born immigrant of hard working parents, Ann connected these workers’ stories with my own family struggles and millions of immigrant families in similar situations,” he said.

This focus led Narro to Los Angeles, where he began working on labor issues, both in California and in other countries. In 2006, after several years working on a variety of cases, policy efforts, and immigrant worker organizing campaigns, Narro focused on car wash employees in Los Angeles, and in 2008, he started a campaign to create the first-ever car wash employee union. “Many workers earn $35 for a twelve-hour work day-less than $3 per hour,” Narro explained. “Many are ‘tip workers’ without wages who are told to live off their tips.” With the tremendous support of the AFL-CIO and the United Steelworkers, Narro co-founded CLEAN, the Community Labor Environmental Action Network and, in the last six years, the group has established unions at twenty-seven different car washes. CLEAN also gave Narro the opportunity to teach others what he learned. “I took what Ann taught me and I passed it on to one of my UCLA students.” That student, Rosemarie Molina, has gone on to become the Strategic Director for CLEAN, as Professor Hodges’ lessons and influence stretch across the country and to a new generation of lawyers.

When Narro first heard about the Beckman award, there was “no hesitation” in nominating Professor Hodges. “The hard part was that I had to get it down to two pages double-spaced,” Narro explained. “I had so much to write about Ann that it went for five or six pages single-spaced!”  Professor Hodges believes that the Beckman Award is more of a tribute to Narro’s great work than her own. “It’s really about what he has done over the years since he graduated from here; all of the amazing work that he’s done on behalf of low-wage workers and immigrant workers. Maybe I helped start him on the path, but he’s certainly made the road.” Narro, however, insists that all of the credit belongs to Professor Hodges. “Ann Hodges set me off on a great and rewarding journey filled with challenges and hope, but always with a strong commitment to continuing the struggle for a better tomorrow for working immigrant families.”

Professor Hodges and Narro will meet up in Atlanta in November for the Beckman Award ceremony. At the ceremony, Professor Hodges will be honored along with the nine other recipients, and will receive the $25,000 prize. She is looking forward to hearing the stories of the others who have been honored. “It will be interesting to hear the stories of other people who have gotten this award, and what the people have done that have been inspired by them. I think that’s what the award is designed to do, to recognize people who have inspired people who have made some significant contributions.”

Ultimately, it is the students like Narro and countless others who have studied under Professor Hodges that motivate her the most. “That’s part of the reason I like this job: seeing young people with a passion, seeing them go out and live out that passion in their work. It’s what they do that’s going to make a difference in the world now, and it’s inspiring to see what they are doing.”